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Chelsea and Abi from @PhilosophyTube speak about her principles for performing on YouTube, the costs associated with gender, and what she's most proud of as an actress and creator.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

It's me, your girl, Chelsea Fagan, Founder and CEO of The Financial Diet, person who loves talking about money and person who has a little bit of hay fever going. So you're going to have to excuse the congestion.

It doesn't sound good. But listen, sometimes this is what we have to work with. It's early spring.

My fellow allergy-havers, you guys know how it is. And today, we have a very, very exciting guest, someone that I have been trying to get on the podcast for quite some time. In fact, she is one of the last people I hung out with pre-pandemic.

How little we knew, right? We were running through Times Square, just having a little fun night. Everything seemed normal, and then we all know what happened after that.

But pretty much since that time, I've been trying to get her on TFD in some capacity. And obviously, again, global pandemic, that just wasn't in the cards. But we were able to finally sync up to do this podcast, and it's one that I've been particularly excited about.

As you guys know, I don't often interview other YouTubers because quite frankly, a lot of YouTubers don't have a ton of interesting things to say about money slash are completely disconnected from the realities of money. A lot of famous YouTubers are just like multimillionaire 23-year-olds. The river doesn't run too deep when it comes to talking about money or, in many cases, when it comes to talking about things like capitalism, economics, the context and framework through which we're all navigating our personal finances.

But much like YouTuber Big Joel, a.k.a. medium-sized Henry, that you guys may have seen my interview with last year, there are some YouTubers that do really cover all of those subjects and lots of other stuff with a ton of nuance and thoughtfulness. And my guest today is one of those people, one of my personal favorite YouTubers, and hopefully someone that you guys love as much as I do. It's Abigail Thorn, actress and YouTuber, creator of the PhilosophyTube podcast.

Hi! Hello! Hello, it's lovely to be here finally.

I know. It's finally, finally worked out. Where are you calling in from?

From London. From old London town. And before we get started, I want to thank Avast for supporting today's episode of The Financial Confessions.

Avast's new all-in-one solution, Avast One, helps you take control of your safety and privacy online. Learn more about Avast One at avast.com. For those who may not be as familiar, can you explain a little bit what PhilosophyTube is?

Oh, wow. I guess. So nine years ago almost, I was about to start studying for a degree in philosophy at the University of St.

Andrews in Scotland, and the government decided to triple University tuition fees. I was in the last year to pay the old fees before they got tripled. And I had a lot of friends who couldn't go to university anymore.

And philosophy was already kind of a difficult subject to access, and so I thought that was quite unfair. And in my second year of university, a friend suggested I start a YouTube channel for stand up comedy. And I was like, I don't think I'm good enough to do that.

But I liked the idea of a YouTube channel, and I had this idea of giving away a philosophy degree for free, for making it more accessible. And I just kind of smashed these two ideas together in my brain and thought, what if I did a philosophy YouTube channel? Which at the time, did not exist.

Now, you can throw a stone in the woods and you'll hit 10 people summarizing Plato, but back then, there was like nothing. It was like PBS Idea Channel, and that was it. And so my original plan was just to film all of my lectures and upload them onto YouTube.

But the University said, you can't do that. So I started out in my parents' bedroom just summarizing what I'd learned in lessons, and just saying, this is what I learned today. And-- Aw! --nine years on, it's become a lot bigger than that.

Now, the videos aren't five minutes long, they're usually 45 minutes or thereabouts. And I use costumes, and characters, and theater and everything I've learned from the acting world to try and explain and bring home philosophical concepts in a way that makes them engaging, that relates them to people's everyday experience, and that just kind of enables people to do philosophy and to think for themselves rather than just listen to somebody reading out a Wikipedia article about Nietzsche, you know? So that's kind of the mission is teaching philosophy in a fun way.

That's what I say to people who've never even heard of YouTube and don't have a concept of that. I would love to meet a person who's never heard of YouTube. That person probably-- Well, there are people who aren't really sure what-- they have heard of YouTube, but they don't really sit down and watch a YouTube video.

That's just not part of their life. So the way I explain it to people is I say, I teach philosophy in a fun way. I would agree with that.

Do you have any one particular video that you feel like, I really went off here. Ooh-- "Food, Body, Mind," was one that I did last year. And I am quite proud of that because I thought it balanced the intellectual with the artistic with the personal quite nicely.

Those are the three dimensions that I come at it from. And I thought that blended them quite nicely. And also a lot of people wrote to me and said that meant something to them.

My coming out video, "Identity," which is now over a year old, was also, I think, artistically one of my best. But I've got more stuff in the works. I'm excited about my next one which is going to be about technology.

I've got some kind of fun ideas for how to stage that and an old character that's going to be coming back. Yeah, so that's going to be fun. So the answer to what's your favorite video is always the next one.

Now, when it comes to the kinds of videos that you-- the topics that you choose and the things that you talk about, sometimes they do seem very relevant to what's happening. You recently did one on vaccinations and the overall zeitgeist that's happening there. But then, oftentimes, you do one that seem very removed from whatever it happens to be in the news.

Is there a method for choosing the topics and beyond that, is there a way that-- do you have a house line or something that you want people to take away from your videos? An overarching message, a way that you approach these topics? Well, I would say, is there a method for choosing videos?

Method is a strong word. I follow the curiosity. I've said this before sometimes that for PhilosophyTube, it seems like there's a little spirit that tells me what it has to be, and I just have to listen to that.

So usually at the end of the year in December time I'll sit down and I'll make a list of a bunch of things that I'm interested in. And I'll just have a list of potential future episodes in my phone. I have a whole document.

And when I finish a video and it's time to choose the next one, I'll scroll down that list. And usually, one of them will grab me, and I'll go oh, oh! I want to do really about this, and this is what I'm feeling right now.

So it's a very sort of drama school-- you just have to listen to the creativity exercise. So I wouldn't say there was a method. It's not a hard and fast process.

Sometimes it is something that's very relevant to the news, but even then, it's often on a delay. So I knew I wanted to do one on vaccinations and COVID even when the pandemic started. But it's taken me two years for the voice to actually say, and this is what it needs to be.

Right. So not really a method, no. In terms of a house line, I do have some rules about the kinds of things that I make on the show.

So I don't want people to see knowledge and learning as competitive. I don't want people to watch my show and feel like, oh yeah, that's been debunked. Or like, she really went in on that guy and demolished his point of view.

I don't like to do that. I like it to be something where people feel like they can sit and listen and be constructive and bring their own thoughts to it. Personally just for me, I don't like this quite aggressive debate style.

I try to do something non-competitive in that way mainly just because at university, I did the whole debating society thing and didn't thrill me. It didn't seem to be a good way of learning. So I guess that's the-- I try to be like non-aggressive and non-competitive in the way that I teach.

And I also have rules about the presenter persona that I adopt on the show in that I try to never get angry, and I try to never get mean on the show, and I try to never single anyone out and make them feel bad. So I would never say on philosophy tube hey, John Smith, you suck. Because when I started, I made a promise to myself that I would never use the platform to single anyone out and make them feel bad because when I started, it was very much the height of the new atheism, skepticism movement on YouTube that did a lot of that.

And I saw how that could really make people feel bad. So now, even if there's someone I very much disagree with, I try not to single them out and make them feel bad even if I do a video-- I've done a couple of videos on Jordan Peterson. I try to avoid any, even though I disagree with him, personal dunks or making fun of his personal life and stuff because it's just not the kind of-- Despite how easy-- sorry, despite how easy that would be to do. [LAUGHS] Yeah, well, people sometimes do say that and arguably, sometimes there are some people who maybe should be called out personally.

And I'm not saying there's never any place for that on YouTube at all, but it's not the PhilosophyTube way. And this extends right across all of my personal branding. If you go on my Twitter or my Facebook, for instance, all the official PhilosophyTube outlets, I very rarely, and I hope never, say anything negative about anyone.

I never single anyone out and go, at John Smith, you fool. I just really try not to do that because I don't want to cultivate the kind of audience that expects that. And I don't want to cultivate the kind of personality in me that does that either.

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine, a journalist, recently about the personas that we adopt online. And there are some YouTubers who are very much the same in person as they are online, and there are some who are very different. And there are some who have adopt this persona online that is quite mean and cynical and edgy, and in real life they're just the biggest sweetheart.

So they're just so lovely and they're just pushovers. And I was having this discussion with my friend about the personas we adopt and about authenticity online. And I said, if you are going to adopt a persona online as a presenter, then surely, it's better to adopt a persona that is nicer and kinder than you are in real life.

In real life I do get angry and I do get jealous and I do have these negative feelings, of course, like everyone does. But I try to keep that off the show out of a desire to cultivate similarly positive vibes in the audience. So yeah, that's the closest thing I would say to a house style.

Yeah, you're a better woman than I am because I definitely, when it comes to certain figures, I actually love your Jordan Peterson video it's one of my favorites. And I guess-- Oh, thank you. looking back, oh, I guess looking back I guess it's not mean. I think the thing with figures like that are so pernicious in the culture, you don't really have to say all that much that is directly antagonistic in order to paint a pretty damning picture.

And I think that your video does that quite well. I think a person walks away, even if they don't feel that you have a personal ax to grind with him as a person, that the ideas themselves are pretty easy to knock down. But I also think in some ways what can be tough about it, especially to move it to the sociopolitical space, I feel like one of the things that is often difficult for people who have progressive ideals who are on the left is that we do, often, I think, care a little bit more about being kind and about not directly attacking and meanwhile, I don't know exactly how it is in Britain, but I can say that in the US there are huge, huge swaths of the political and cultural zeitgeist on the right, and especially when it comes to things like personal finance when you look at like a lot of the narratives they're so directly antagonistic, they're so directly shaming, ostracizing when it comes to people in poverty, when it comes to especially women who might be taking social services, all of that kind of stuff.

And it can be really effective. People like to hear it, they like to see it. There are millions and millions of views on these videos of the thought leaders where they're just tearing into someone for bad decisions they've made or they're tearing into a politician for not having the right policies.

And I wonder, do you feel like in holding back in that way that either you're sort of ceding ground in some way or that you make it almost easier for the opposition to own that territory of-- what's the word I'm looking for-- to own the territory of that satisfying cathartic debate? Yes, this is something that I've certainly become very aware of in particular in the last few years. One of the big questions I think hanging over PhilosophyTube as a project is that if it's aimed at alleviating ignorance and educating people, what do we do about people who want to remain ignorant?

Or even people who their job depends on them remaining ignorant? That, I think, is one of the big questions that hangs over the project. And I think a fair criticism that someone could give me is that the channel does not equip people to deal with those who want to remain in ignorance or those whose power and influence depends on maintaining deliberate ignorance.

And I think certainly in particular, a lot of the transphobia in the media in the UK is based in deliberate ignorance and people have a financial incentive to maintain that ignorance. So yes, I think somebody could very fairly criticize the channel on those grounds. All I can say is that the PhilosophyTube jutsu is a strong one, it's one that's served me well, in particular this policy of never saying anything negative about anyone personally is part of what has allowed the channel to go on as long as it has.

Right. Because I have seen other creators who I wouldn't say pick fights, but who do get into one-on-ones with other creators and it takes a lot out of you. And me and some close friends, we talk about the PhilosophyTube jutsu, which is, never say anything negative about anyone and on a long enough timeline, your enemies will cancel themselves. [LAUGHS] And that has proven to be overwhelmingly true in my case.

There have been people over the years who have tried to come for me, even in some cases who have directly libeled me, and sometimes I really want to hit back. There were a lot of people that I would love to just take up my phone and tweet to 300,000 people, hey you, screw you. That would be lovely.

But I don't do that because it feels like PhilosophyTube is bigger than me. It's not the Abigail Thorn show. It is, in a sense, about taking a certain attitude towards education and learning.

And perhaps some people might say that's quite a pretentious stance, and perhaps there-- [LAUGHTER] --may be a grain of truth in that. But it's something that I picked up from my own philosophy teacher way back in the day when I was at school and something that's served me well. But in answer to your question, yeah, I think that would be a very fair criticism actually.

And to be clear, I'm not trying to say that hey, you need to be yelling about other YouTubers more. But I do also think that it can be very disheartening from, again, from the perspective that I'm in when it comes to economics and finance to see how far you can go in trying to, for example, you can make 100 videos that very clearly and very in a data-driven way will break down the welfare queen myth and will explain why this is not true on aggregate, and why all of our notions about people who receive social services are actually quite the opposite. And then, you have someone who works for like The Daily Wire getting off a tweet about how these lazy bitches won't stop using food stamps to buy cigarettes or whatever they say.

And that wins, you know? Yeah. And I do feel that it can feel somewhat, not hopeless, but it does feel like you're up against, at least for me, a very, very powerful, emotionally driven, rhetorical machine.

Yes, yes. I definitely, yeah. I do understand that position, especially a trans woman living in Britain and seeing the way that our media goes, I definitely understand that position.

But yeah, as I say, the PhilosophyTube jutsu is what has enabled the channel to live as long as it has and for me to remain sane and healthy and to keep making it. So it's a kind of inevitable compromise. I think if PhilosophyTube ever does end definitively, I think I would want to end it by writing PhilosophyTube the book and like stepping out of the channel and critiquing what I've done in a different medium.

I've got a list of chapters that book will eventually contain. And one of them is how do we deal with people who want to remain ignorant? Because spreading that narrative on social media is how they put food on the table.

Yeah, I definitely see where you're coming from. I think these are good points. I want to take a quick pause here and once again thank today's episode sponsor, Avast.

As a digital-first media company and as you can tell from today's episode, digital safety is incredibly necessary in all forms, and it is something that is very important to us here at TFD. Today's sponsor, Avast, has been a global leader in cybersecurity for more than 30 years and is trusted by over 435 million users. Avast empowers you with digital safety and privacy no matter who you are, where you are, how you connect, or your budget.

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Learn more about Avast One at avast.com. And now, let's get back to our chat with Abby of PhilosophyTube. As you mentioned, so you-- when did you do your coming out video?

That was, I want to say January, 2021? Yeah. OK, so a little over a year ago where, for context, you came out as a very elegant and aspirational woman that we see before us.

Oh, thank you. That's kind. I'm all about the cheekbones.

We got it all, we got it all happening. Do you feel that your content has changed quite a bit? Do you feel like either the subjects that you cover or the way that you cover them have changed since you've come out?

Oh, well, the core of it, I think, remains the same. That kind of attitude we talked about, the attitude towards learning, the non-competitiveness, that was always there. I think certainly the way the show looks has changed.

And I do think more now about the style of it. Like one thing that's changed is all of my videos post coming out I've been working with a stylist and the makeup artist and that gives me a little bit more room aesthetically to play than I did before. And I don't think the topics necessarily have changed because I'm still following that little spirit and still following the curiosity.

I very deliberately don't make videos about trans content. I very deliberately don't do that. I think it's been done better by other YouTubers.

And I don't want my channel to become just about LGBT content. It is supposed to be for a much more general audience. It does come up occasionally because being trans is philosophically quite fascinating, often, and also there's a lot of fun jokes you can make with it.

In particular, it's very funny when I get commenters who-- because the nature of PhilosophyTube is that you don't have to watch every single one. You can jump in and out for a few months and I don't mind that. But it's always very funny when somebody leaves a comment saying, hey, I haven't watched this show in a while.

What happened to the other presenter? And I'm like-- [LAUGHTER] --welcome, welcome back. All the time people are very, very complimentary about that.

They're like, wow, that's incredible. If I couldn't see it on the screen I wouldn't believe it, which also is kind of how it feels to me. But no, I don't think it's changed all that much.

Perhaps I wouldn't be the person to ask about that though, perhaps the audience would be the best person to ask. I think there are certainly audience reactions that I get now that I didn't before. So I did always get a lot of people talking about my looks, but it's a lot more now.

There's a lot more of that now. Welcome to the club. Being a woman on YouTube, it's awesome.

Yes, indeed. Yeah. I was kind of prepared for that.

And also, I think there was always been people who didn't like the show and there's always been people who've been mean about the show, but I would say that the level of venom has definitely increased-- That's terrible. --after coming out. I would say that the nasty and the hateful comments that I get are now a lot more potent. Whereas before, people might have said, oh, like this show really sucks.

I don't like the host. Now, people will really, really go in and criticize me as a person. So part of what I wanted to talk about from a financial aspect is, so obviously over the past two years you have completely-- I don't know if you have a lot of your old clothes, but you certainly have a lot of new ones, a beauty routine, hair, grooming, we got the nails going, I'm sure we're getting like spa treatments, we got facials, we got all kinds of stuff.

Plus-- I would love to go to the spa. Oh, my gosh. Don't tell me they're still closed in England.

I mean, no, no. I mean, a trans woman going to a spa in London is just it's asking, in my opinion-- perhaps this isn't the case, but I would not feel safe doing that. I was in the US recently visiting a friend, and she did arrange to go to a massage and I was amazed that the massage therapist was another trans person and that trans people were just openly welcomed in the spa.

But I think me as a trans woman going to a spa in London, I would feel this is a headline waiting to happen. I just would not feel safe doing that right now in the current political climate. But yes, you're right.

In other dimensions, certainly. There's a whole new wardrobe. I kept one suit from the old days, a purple suit that I used to present PhilosophyTube in.

It's in a couple of my old videos, and I'm actually thinking about having that converted and retailored into a woman's cut suit with the buttons on the other side and different lapels and stuff. I'm thinking about getting that done. But that was the only thing I kept.

Other than that, yes, certainly. I needed an entirely new wardrobe. And suddenly needed to spend a lot more money on skincare.

Can you talk about the finances of doing that as an adult, and specifically, for context for people at home, when we were initially talking pre-pandemic, I was speaking to her and another YouTuber possibly about doing a series of videos on the finances of performing gender, both masculine and feminine. This was actually prior to you coming out and whatnot. Yeah.

That was so wild because I did do that thing, I did do the like James Bond thing for a while. I tried-- as a lot of times people do, we sense that something is wrong with the gender that we were assigned at birth. And your first instinct is to double down.

So I did do that custom suits and dating models, and being in the gym all the time. I did do all of that. So yes, I can understand why you initially approached me to do a video about the finances of masculinity.

Well, listen-- A subject about which it is apparent that I know very little. No but it's also-- for what it's worth, again, it's fairly rare, especially in America, where men are like, get it together guys. We got to get a little personal style and grooming going.

I feel like you can walk into a nice restaurant in the US and men will be wearing literally t-shirts and flat brim baseball caps or basketball hats. What is going on? But yeah, obviously, you, then in now, had quite a refined and considered level of personal style, let's say.

That's kind of you. Listen, again, not that you weren't standing out regardless in a good way, but in America, not hard to really look like you're putting in the effort. But I'm curious about what the finances were of completely overhauling your presentation as an adult, and more importantly, if you've noticed a direct correlation between-- you mentioned the stylists, makeup artist, things like that-- a correlation between spending more money and beyond obviously being a woman, being the sort of woman that you aspire to because that's something that, as women, I think we struggle with enormously is the idea of women we have in our heads that we want to be and appear as in the world is almost a one-to-one correlation with money.

Yes, yes that's very true. And even more so in Britain, really. I Again, I had this long period of planning what the coming out would be and being able to sit and plan what the public persona would be.

And in Britain, I knew that I was not only going to be one of the most high profile trans women in the country, but also a woman in Britain in the public eye. And I felt that there was an expectation to be kind of-- the closer you are to Kate Middleton, the easier time you're going to have, and that there is this quite prim, stylish, quite proper way that women in the public eye are expected to be if we are to be taken seriously. And I remember when I did my coming out photoshoot, the photographer asked me, what's the vibe we're going for?

And I said well, Emma Watson if she was the captain of a women's rowing team is like kind of what we need because that's what British women, I feel, I felt at the time, are expected to be if we're going to be taken seriously. So in terms of the finances of the transformation, actually the first thing was that I had a lot to get rid of. I had a whole 20-something years' worth of clothes to get rid of.

And I had take them down to the charity shop. It's kind of almost slightly haunting because you get rid of somebody old clothes when they die. And you have to put the clothes in bin bags and take them down.

So that was interesting. And I gave some things away and sold some of the things. I had a male flatmate at the time, and I said to him, do you want any of these?

And he was like, yeah, actually. Please, I'll have these. So that was good.

And the process of building up the new wardrobe has been slow and steady. I have a large pile of shoes over there that I try to cut down every few months. I go in with a machete and then I go and give some of them away but then I kind of acquire them again because I work with a stylist, Brian, on PhilosophyTube.

Brian is actually the highest paid person on the PhilosophyTube set. Hell, yeah, Brian. He really, really works hard.

And we sit down before every video and we design the looks together. And usually, there'll be one or two items where at the end of the show, he'll say, well, I can't return these. I can't give them away.

Do you want to keep them? So sometimes I get little presents from Brian the stylist. So I have a nice pair of trainers that he got for the show that I just acquired and some sweatpants and stuff.

In terms of my own clothes, so the clothes that I wear every day I mostly find those myself. And there are-- I don't want to give the specific brands that I'm going for, but this dress I chose myself. I don't tend to go for big end luxury stuff.

I don't really like that all that much. I try and bear in mind a pound a wear, right, is that if you spend 80 pounds or something, you should try and wear it 80 times at least. I don't always succeed in managing that.

Sometimes if it's for a special occasion, I might spring for something fancier. But yeah, it has been-- I do spend a lot more money now on clothes. And in particular, my skin care, I spend a lot more on skin care products now.

And also being transgender in the UK is extremely expensive because the NHS de facto-- I mean, we have free healthcare in this country if you're cisgender. De jure, transition is provided by the NHS, de facto that is not the case. So you need to find other ways of doing that.

So yeah, it has been an interesting financial journey. But it all starts with putting everything in bin bags and taking it down to the charity shop. Did you have a budget for totally overhauling your wardrobe when you started or was it just like, we're just going to go rogue?

No, it was very slow and steady. I wonder, can I tell this? Yeah, go on.

I can tell this story. So when I started out, I deliberately tried to buy-- I bought a dress as I was beginning to realize what I needed to do and I was still very much in denial. I said, well, I tell you what.

I'm going to buy a dress. I'm going to buy the ugliest, nastiest dress, cheapest dress I possibly can. I'm going to put it on, I'm going to turn around and when I see myself in the mirror I'm going to think, how foolish.

How could I ever think this. And then I'll put the dress away and I'll be able to move on with my life and I'll never need to do this. I'll be able to put all these thoughts away.

And of course, I bought this incredibly horrible gray sack and put it on and turned around and was like, oh, my life has changed forever now because I love it. So I didn't have a budget, really. And I kind of still don't.

The way that PhilosophyTube works financially is that all of the money that comes in through Patreon and the small peanuts that comes in through advertising and sponsorships and so on goes into a separate account that is for making the show. And that's the account from which all the crew and the stylists and the makeup artists, everyone is paid. And I get a small salary from that account.

And then, at the end of every tax year I sit down and I say, OK, how much is in this? How much is going to roll over to the next year and how much am I going to be able to live on? So I don't really have a set budget, per se.

I just try very hard to be frugal and also to take care of the crew and the stylists and the venue and everyone, that all happens first and then I get my cut out of it. And the rest all just rolls over into the show because the money that goes into the show, I don't really see that as mine. So when it comes to the money that you make on the channel-- so when you do acting jobs, that's your money.

That's you. Yes. And then you have the channel, and what are the streams of money that you have going into the channel?

You have Patreon and what else do you do? Patreon is the main one. That's the biggest slice.

There's a tiny little bit through advertising like pre-roll ads on YouTube. Typically, that's not really much because especially for an educational channel, the amount of money you get in advertising is very small. Sometimes I'll do a sponsored video through Nebula or CuriosityStream.

So I have and my agent, Dave, at Standard who handles that sort of thing. So there's those three. Oh, and sometimes people make-- or they used to be able to make one-time donations through PayPal.

Because PayPal screwed up, you can't do that anymore. So I don't have that, but I did used to. I would say those are the three.

Oh, also sometimes, there is PhilosophyTube merch. I'm not really big on the merch scene because, again, that attitude of I don't want it to be competitive, I don't want it to be a consumer-- I don't want knowledge to be a consumer artifact. So I don't really tend to push the merch all that much.

But there is some PhilosophyTube merch out there. And so that's another even tinier bit of it. But I would say those are all the ones I can think of.

If I've forgotten any, then I apologize. But yeah, those are-- Patreon is the biggest slice. One of the people that a lot of our listeners are familiar with because she's been on the channel many times, she's done a miniseries with us that you and I both know, is Lindsay Ellis who recently quit the internet because I'm not going to go into this.

You can watch the video. She talked all about the finances of getting canceled in what I feel was an extremely spurious and unfair way. But suffice to say, she went through quite a lot and left YouTube.

And I know, and she did, I think, allude to this in her leaving letter, but I even knew back before that how much the only thing that was keeping her on YouTube, getting ad revenue, making content, was the fact that she had a lot of people to support who worked for her that she paid probably, frankly looking back, better than she could really even afford to, especially when it came to all the healthcare and stuff. And you mentioned that you have a team that you pay and that sees the money before you see it. A, do you feel a pressure to-- you mentioned you do some sponsorships but not a ton.

Do you feel a pressure to monetize the channel beyond what you would personally want because of them. And then also, you had mentioned if acting does get bigger, YouTube will take that backseat or might go to a book and then go away. Do you feel that what is keeping you in the current flow of things is more still your own desire to do it or the fact that you now have a team that wants PhilosophyTube to keep going and paying them?

It's definitely my own desire that's keeping the show going. From what I know of Lindsay's situation with regards to her retirement, she obviously had to provide health insurance for her, I guess team members, employees, which in the UK because we have a national health service, thankfully, I don't have to. If there's somebody I don't work with anymore, they're not not getting healthcare.

But no, I would say it is definitely my own desire doing that. Sometimes it lines up and there's additional opportunities. So at some point last year, a couple of the guys in the crew who are friends who I've worked with for years, they said, oh, we'd quite like to do a behind the scenes documentary about PhilosophyTube.

We think that people would like that. It's something we're interested in shooting. What do you think?

And I said, oh, you know who would really like that is my agent in the US who does all the stuff with Nebula because we could do it as a Nebula exclusive. I don't like the idea of putting educational content behind a paywall. I do want that to be free.

Right. But if it's like an extra, behind the scenes thing about how the show is made, maybe we could do that as a Nebula exclusive. And so we did.

And there was a paycheck that came, I think at time of recording will be coming soon I hope, for that Nebula exclusive. And I said to the crew, I said, OK, this is going to be your bonus. This is for you because normally the way we do things is that it's my show and I call the shots and I do the directing and the editing and stuff.

But I said, this time, if you guys are handling this, if this is something that you're going to handle the production and the editing of, I see no reason why you guys shouldn't get the lion's share of income from this. So that's what we're going to do with that money. But that wasn't so much a monetizing it in addition, so much as this was an opportunity that came along that would get them a nice bonus and also keep my agent happy and that I certainly didn't mind doing because I just like being on set and working with the guys.

And so that's-- I mean, I say I have a team, there's me and then three or four others. I won't mention their names because they like to stay behind the scenes. But Mr.

X and Mr. Y do the camera work and Brian is our stylist and then I have, depending on who's available, there's a few makeup artists that I like to work with. And they all have other jobs, and there's nobody who's just dependent on PhilosophyTube apart from me.

There's no behind-the-scenes staff. Sometimes, I get emails that are addressed like, Dear Abigail or admin staff, and I'm like I don't have any-- it's just me. I handle all the social media, all the admin, all the production, all the editing, all of that kind of thing.

So there's nobody who's in an analogous situation to what some of Lindsay's employees were in, which is they're wholly dependent on this as their full-time job. Well, I'm going to start putting a glam squad for me in our budget because I'm looking like fried hell on some of these videos. Oh.

No, it's fine. I really, truly, one of the things that I have to say I feel very lucky about with our audience is that for as much as it is so tough to be a woman on YouTube and people are so cruel and so unrelenting in their criticisms toward women, we just luckily have an audience that's like 90% plus women which is truly unheard of on YouTube. So there's almost never really nasty appearance-based comments that most women on YouTube suffer through.

And when there are occasionally, like they get swarmed by our commenters who are like, how dare you? Yes. I'm very lucky in that regard too.

The regular PhilosophyTube audience are just wonderful. Just saints. They're so kind.

They're so great. So speaking of our audience, so we got quite a lot of questions that I want to run through. We won't be able to get to all of them, but I'm just going to hit a few of the more upvoted ones.

OK. All right, so someone is asking, having gone through some major medical stuff over the past few years, how does Britain's NHS stack up against the image that some Americans have of it? Some people talk about it as if it's the gold standard of nationalized healthcare, but I've also heard some negative stuff?

I think in particular the NHS's treatment of trans people is very possibly going to be the subject of a forthcoming video. I think I may have to break my rule of not doing trans stuff just once. Although even then, I think it's possibly going to be within a larger subject.

So I'll save my detailed thoughts for then. I think the NHS, the fact that it's free at point of service is kind of wonderful. It has been under political attack for quite some time.

It has been defunded and cut to the bone really, and obviously pushed to breaking point by the pandemic. So there are now several million people who are on surgical waiting lists for even quite important things like hip replacements, joint replacements, that kind of thing. So the NHS in the UK has kind of been pushed to breaking point by successive governments who are trying to privatize it and to have a more American-style system.

So relative to what it could be, it's amazing. I would say that with a little asterisk that if you are trans, things are a lot more difficult. But certainly, the NHS has saved when I was younger, kind of saved me.

And I was delivered in the NHS, I was born in the NHS. That didn't cost my parents anything. I had to have some quite serious surgery like 2012, years and years ago now, and that was completely free.

So certainly relative to what it could be, it's incredible. But there's room for improvement, I think. And I won't spoil where I'm going to go with this future video, but so yeah.

The horror stories are true, but also the miracle stories are often true as well. Someone is asking how do we balance not wanting to support the exploitative systems that we live in while still taking care of our personal finances? Yeah, so this is a question that I get a lot.

And I'm going to give you a kind of true philosophy answer here and critique the terms of the question because I don't think there is a single pithy answer that I can give. But I do get a lot of people asking me about living ethically under capitalism and how to do that. There's a philosopher Slavoj Zizek who I don't like all of his work, but certainly one thing that I think he does nail is the way in which disavowal of capitalism while still engaging in it is actually part of the central mechanism in certainly imperial countries like Britain and the US by which it is kept functioning, and that people sometimes make a fetish out of trying to do the ethical thing under capitalism.

And I absolutely include myself with this. They make a fetish out of disavowing it while still engaging in it. So I think the question here raises a very, very interesting and difficult point that we probably can't get into which is that even if you do do everything as ethically as you possibly can, and it is important to try, ultimately, the problems are bigger than that.

If everybody did the ethical under capitalism thing, the central problem would still remain, which is the unsustainability of it and the exploitativeness of it. So yeah, I would have to critique the terms of the question there. I think as the poet Rilke said, you have to live the question on that one.

I don't think there is a pithy formula that I can give to answer it except to say that it's important to keep trying. I agree. I also think that it is something that very much scales up or down depending on how much power you have.

And in many cases, money is that power. But it also is a systemic position. Obviously as CEO, I have a decent amount of employees, and that means that I have a huge amount of leverage in terms of the more or less ethical decisions under capitalism that I can make.

And similarly, if you have enough disposable income to make really discerning choices about where you buy clothes, or where you buy food, or where you buy things that can materially support people who are creating things that are less destructive, I think that it becomes more of an ethical obligation. Where I think it becomes really tough is under a certain income level, it's just not possible to make much more ethical decisions. You're not able to buy food or clothing or whatever that was sustainably produced.

And often, those are the people who are most under the microscope for making unethical choices. And I do think that it should definitely be a sliding scale answer based on what you're able to do. It very much frustrates me when I'll go to a relative's house who lives in a massive McMansion on their own plot of land and their home is full of bottled water and all of this stuff that's so unnecessary and so destructive to the environment, and they drive these huge SUVs that guzzle gas and this, that, and the other.

That frustrates me a lot more because those people have the ability to make different choices. They have the ability to consume in a different way versus someone who lives in a food desert in the South Bronx who can only even get their groceries from dollar corner markets. I'm not going to judge them about what choices they're making with the limited options that they have.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I agree, absolutely. OK, so we have someone who's asking-- so we have a lot of people who asked about the pros and cons of making money off of Patron, what you think of Patreon, what you think of generally relying on your audience to supply most of your money?

Yeah, I would-- well, I think if you have a wonderful audience, an like an incredible audience like I do, that's definitely one of the pros. I think people do often ask me about Patreon, and I definitely got into it at exactly the right time. I got into Patreon when it was starting and when not a lot of people had it, and I have been able to benefit from that legacy and from being an early adopter of it.

So partly that was luck is that I happened to get into it back when Patreon was new and you had to explain to people in the video what it was. And so I think one of the cons is that you're often reliant on luck. And if you're starting now, it's probably harder, now that everyone and their mom has a patron, than it was back in the day.

There is a inflexibility-- that's not the right word. There is an unpredictability to it that some months are good and some are not so good. And you have to adjust budgets.

But then, the same is true of a lot of jobs, particularly in the creative sector, particularly acting. So I'm used to that. And I also try to-- I mentioned before that the money from PhilosophyTube goes into a separate account and if there's anything left over from the budget of making an episode, it rolls over into the next one.

So I usually manage to maintain a pretty consistent production quality based on that. So even if I do have some leaner months, there's usually enough in the PhilosophyTube tank to keep things going until I do a video where we top it up again or I do a sponsorship and we top it up again. So the unpredictability and the fact that it's largely based on luck is definitely part of it.

The pro is that it enables-- one of the biggest pros for me is that it enables me to not really worry about the algorithm or to not really worry about what's going to be popular. I do have some YouTuber friends who are very much dependent on, I've got to make this amount of advertising money every month. And so they really go into the analytics and they really get in their head about it.

I don't look at my analytics. I haven't looked at my analytics in years. I don't like to do it.

It makes me feel anxious. I think it's the opposite of making art. It really hampers my creativity.

And one of the great things about Patreon is that I don't have to do that. Right. I am able to follow the artistic curiosity in a way that I wouldn't be able to do if I was dependent on advertising money.

So yeah, I would say that's the big pro is the freedom. So we have a lot of people asking about what acting actually pays. And I'm sure it's not one standard amount across all of the jobs, but I feel like there's such a mystery about it and such an opaqueness.

And obviously, we all know the actors who make millions of dollars, but then the majority of actors seem like they can't live off of acting. So what does it actually pay? No.

You are correct in the majority of actors can't live off it and that all actors require two jobs. I couldn't live permanently off acting. In particular in the UK there's an added wrinkle because if you're going to do acting and you really want to go for it, you have to live in London, which is like one of the most expensive places in the world.

Sure is. Even if you live outside of London, you have to pay to get in. And also there's things like if you want to be auditioning for TV and film, then you need cameras and lights and editing software to do self-tapes because it's all self-tapes now.

Well, on a similar note, our last audience question is how do you deal with the mental health gauntlet that is going on auditions slash having everything about you so open to criticism in the acting process, and how does that stack up against the same thing on YouTube? Well, I like auditions. I like it.

And you kind of have to hang on tightly, let go lightly, as they told me at drama school. I had a wonderful audition yesterday for a Netflix show. I obviously can't say what it was or what it involved, but I just had a blast.

And you have to learn not to take it personally in that they might really love you, but if you're too tall compared to the main guy, then you're not going to get the role. That's not your fault. I had a fantastic audition a couple of weeks ago for an HBO series for a lovely role in that.

And I submitted my tape and the casting director was like, yeah, we really, really love you. It's fantastic, yeah, definitely. We can't say firmly yes, but thumbs up.

And then a week later, my agent called and said, hey, sorry. That role has actually been cut from the script. They've gone back and done a rewrite and she's not in it anymore.

And that kind of thing happens. And if you don't get the role, it's not always your fault. In fact, it rarely is.

It's often just you didn't look right for the part or you did and then somebody else came along, or oh actually, the show has been canceled now, or it's done a rewrite or there's something else involved here. That kind of thing happens all the time. And there's kind of an added layer of difficulty when you're trans because I go up for trans roles and cis roles.

And I'm quite lucky to be able to do that. But when I go up for a trans role if the role says trans woman, the casting director is almost always a cis person. And I don't know what they're thinking or what the producer is expecting.

And there's a handful of trans actors in the UK and we all know each other. So we text each other like, hey, how was your audition for this? Because they just get all of us in for everything, right?

And the fun side of that is that you end up going out for roles that really, you were never going to get but they're fun practice, roles that you're totally unsuited for but you get good practice anyway. And the downside of that is we never really know how trans they want us to be like. Do they-- I had an audition a while ago for a trans sex worker in a show.

And I chose to play it as a very glamorous and very, very high status because that was just what spoke to me about the part. But then, I have a friend who I was chatting with her, and she like, yeah, when I did the audition I was like, do they want me to not shave, do they want me to go in there and kind of be like, hello, I'm a trans woman. Is this sort of thing you want?

Because you don't know what they're expecting, right? And in particular, as the industry evolves to now, there's not really an audition, it's just a self-tape. So you don't go in the room and say, hi, I'm Abigail, nice to meet you.

There's no opportunity for them to redirect you. You just record a self-tape on your own at home. It becomes more and more a game of guess what number the casting director is thinking of.

And they'll look at you and if they can see the role in the first five seconds, you might get it. So it's unusual, but you have to learn not to take things too personally to realize that it's kind of largely just luck. Even very, very big shows now will cast on the basis of a 60 second self-tape with no follow up audition.

I won't say which, but I managed to get quite a large role in an enormous TV show a while ago. We're talking like a multi-million pound production. And I got that role based on a 60 second self-tape with no round two.

I just recorded that alone at home talking to a tape recorder of someone reading the other lines, and they gave the role. And I was astounded. You don't meet me?

You don't want to see me? You don't want to check, do a screen test across another actor? And they're like, no.

Just do it because that's the way the industry is going. So yeah, you just have to learn not to take any of it personally because a lot of the time you'll get unlucky, but then sometimes, you'll get incredibly lucky, hopefully. And you'll have a blast when that happens.

Oh, man. You have to learn to embrace the chaos as one of my drama teachers told me. Yeah, one of my friends is actually, she's a working actress in England as well.

She's actually not English, but she works out there. And she went to an audition, I think she was like 29 at the time, she went into an audition for a character that was early 30s, and they were like, too old. And she was like, oh, god.

Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely that happens. Yeah, definitely. There's your real age, and then there's your TV age.

Yeah, I go up for roles now that are like people in their 30s and 40s because-- and again, you don't know. You don't know because sometimes they'll rewrite the role. I'm in talks about doing a theater role soon and the character is written as in her 50s, but they're like, well, we like you so we might just change that.

So that sort of thing definitely happens as well. It's a very chaotic industry. I'm happy for you getting that job, but I'm also like there's literally no jobs left for women past the age of 40.

We're like-- Well, increasingly on TV there is. Increasingly on TV-- Well, that's good. --and I have to say, to Netflix's credit-- they don't get everything right-- but definitely there's a lot of roles out there for older women in that kind of hinterland of you're post 25, but you're not quite Helen Mirren, Judi Dench age. That middle block, which is most of our lives, there's more roles out there now for women like that if you can hang on in the game long enough.

Nothing more despairing than seeing the age of-- who is it in Spider-man? Aunt-- his aunt. Zendaya?

No. Aunt May. Aunt May.

She starts in the Tobey Maguire film, she's like 80 and then, and now it's Marisa Tomei or whatever. I can't deal with it. Why can't we have old women anymore?

OK. So the time has come, you guys. You guys already know what time it is.

It's our rapid-fire questions. So this is just how we end the show. Whatever comes to mind, feel free to skip a question, just quick answers.

What is the-- I'm really bad at this. OK. [LAUGHTER] What is-- I'll do my best, I'll do my best. What is the big financial secret of your industry?

And let's go with acting. No one has any money. That's a good enough secret, except all the rich kids, I'm sure who come from generational wealth and don't have to care.

Yes, that's true. What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? I invest in make up.

I am cheap about socks. What? What an unexpected answer, OK.

I would love to meet the person who's really into their socks. Actually, I do think we got that answer once of someone who likes really nice socks. OK.

What has been your single best investment and why? Can I say transition? Yeah, of course.

Then I would say that for reasons that I hope are apparent. What has been your biggest money mistake and why? I would say the several years I spent before I came out on really doubling down on masculinity. [LAUGHTER] Like buying a gym membership, and an expensive suit.

Yeah, that was, in hindsight, an error. That's true, if memory serves when we met up, I feel like you were in an extremely dashing outfit. And I remember thinking at the time, I bet that wasn't cheap.

Thank you. Yes, yes. I think we kind of met as the last shreds of my denial were evaporating away.

And I was like, oh, I'd better try really hard at this. Love it. OK, what is your biggest current money insecurity?

Oh, where I'm going to live in a few years time because I can't afford to buy a house. No one in Britain can. So yeah.

Where I'm going to be living in five years. Maybe in an adorable farm in the English countryside making jam. Yeah, if you've got like $5 million just burning a hole in your pocket.

What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most? I think just being a bit of a cheap ass. Hell yeah.

Or rather, not spending money that I don't have. So I try to very definitively avoid going into any kind of debt about anything. If I can't afford something, I just don't get it.

A willingness to occasionally do without. That's good. We love living below your means.

And the last question is, when did you first feel successful and what does that word mean to you? To me, if I can laugh about what I'm doing, then I'm succeeding. If I can laugh, whether that's a laugh of ha-ha, yes, I've done it or whether that's a laugh of, gosh, isn't this silly, then that's when I'm succeeding.

Even if I don't get the role, if I'm able to come out of an audition or a self-help session and be like that was-- I had to do an audition recently where they made me do an accent that I've never studied and was terrible at. And I was able to come out of the audition going, well, I didn't get that role, but it was incredibly funny that I had to do that. What a fantastic story.

So if I can laugh, then I feel like I'm succeeding. I love that answer. I'm happy to say, I've been laughing for years.

I've been laughing at myself for a long time. So, you kind of have to if you're going to do acting. Love that answer.

Well, thank you so much and I apologize again to everyone who's reached this point in the conversation listening to me sounding like the loser kid in a '90s movie. I'm just going to get beat up by the lockers because I'm like, hello. Anyway, thank you so, so much for joining us, Abby.

Where should people go to find more of what you do? PhilosophyTube is where you can usually find me on YouTube and on socials. Other than that, buy by a TV? [LAUGHTER] I can't say some of the things that I'm going to be in, but yeah, just keep an eye on your screens and I'll be there.

And maybe even stages soon, who knows. Listen, get like 50 TVs and tune every TV into a different channel and eventually, statistically, she will pop up on your screen. Eventually, I will pop up, yeah.

I hope. Well, thank you guys so much for tuning in, and as always, we will see you next Monday for an all new episode of The Financial Confessions. Goodbye. [MUSIC PLAYING]